In this part of the hospital, kids rule.
“We are a pediatric emergency room within an adult emergency room. So we have pediatric physicians on staff 24/7 and that helps us to address different needs of pediatric patients,” says Jennifer Neill, child life specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.
There was a time when children were treated like mini-adults, with little regard to their peace of mind. Nowadays specialized care units are becoming the norm.
“As the whole medical field has shifted to patient satisfaction,” says Neill.
One of the more noticeable differences is an additional staffer. A child advocate who may be called on to translate between the doctors and nurses to the patient and their family members.
“What I do is help staff know how to be more kid friendly,” says Neill.
At Golisano Children’s Hospital, Jennifer Neill is one of a handful of child life specialists.
“Sometimes our language can be confusing in hospital setting. So we work as a group and we all talk in ways that make it appropriate and understandable for kids,” says Neill.
Another source of anxiety for kids is needles. In recognizing this fear, children may be offered topical anesthetics to take away the sting.
“Depending on age or different types of injuries. We can use topical numbing agents for IV placements for a variety of different things. Our ultimate goal is to make things as painless as possible,” says Neill.
The child-centered chain stretches through the hospital, as child life specialists entertain and distract kids during diagnostic testing.
“I don’t do any of the medical part, my job is really making sure the kids understand what’s going on and keeping them calm throughout,” says Kathryn Davis, child life specialist.
It comes down to taking care of kids.